We are a couple in our 60's on our 8th cruise, 4th on Princess. The first to the Eastern Carribean. We had a balcony cabin on the caribe deck. We flew in the day of sailing arriving at Fort Lauderdale at 10:30 am and went directly to ship arriving about 11. We carry on our luggage so there was no wait after arriving the airport. The time from airport to cruise terminal is about 15 minutes. After arriving to the terminal, we waited about 45 minutes before they started calling groups to check in. Once they started the process, it moved very quickly. We were on the boat and in our room by noon. I have read on these boards that the dining room is open when you get on the ship, but we asked and were told that only the buffet is open when the ship is docked - including the first day.
Food - For the price of the cruise, the food was what we expected. Our only complaint is the breakfast in the dining room. We only ate there once and at a table of 8, everyone said they would NOT eat there again. Very limited choices and it just wasn't very good. We ate dinner every night in any time dining. There was a long wait only one evening, and they took a group of 8 of us to the traditional dining room to eat. Other nights if you wanted to share, then there was very little if any wait. We ate at a table for two 3 of the seven nights with no wait. We ate at the Crown Grill restaurant one night and the steaks were very good. I read raves and heard raves on board about the restaurant, but we were not that impressed. However for the price, I DO think it is worth $50. This was our second time to try it, but probably won't do it again. Three different couples told us that the buffet on the first night was fabulous - all kinds of seafood. I will look at it next time I cruise Princess. One couple just checked it out after dinner, and were sorry that they did not eat the buffet!
Excursions - We cruise for the ports we visit more than the on board experience of cruising. We always plan for an excursion from Princess or on our own in every port. Because we did not plan this trip very far in advance, I was not able to get any independent tours. All of the excursions were with Princess.
St. Maarten - We did the $89, 3 hour Scenic Island tour. We boarded a bus which drove us around the island with a couple of stops for pictures and about 30 minutes in Marigot. It was a good way to see the Island. Then when we returned to the pier, we did the $49, 2 hour snorkeling Shipwreck Cove. The water was very choppy and we did NOT see any fish at all. The water was very cloudy. We did see the shipwreck. The boat and crew were great, but we would NOT do this tour again. We were exhausted after trying to swim back to reboard the very nice catamaran.
St. Thomas - We did the $49, 4.5 hour St. John Island tour. We took the ferry to St. John and then boarded and open air vehicle which held 24 people and drove us all around the Island with lots of stops for pictures. When we returned to St Thomas, we were planning to do a tour of St. Thomas, but it poured down rain. I did hear from other travelers that the snorkeling in St. Thomas was wonderful, and we will do that if ever in St. Thomas again.
Grand Turk - We did the $79, 3 hour catamaran sail, snorkel and beach tour. It was great. Our best excursion. The water was clear blue, calm, and we saw lots of fish. The beach stop was fun also. They were pouring the drinks after the snorkel, and everyone seemed to have a great time!
Entertainment - We did not go to the shows. The shows just remind us of high school productions. (we did try one evening as we do on every cruise) We go to lots of performances when traveling or in our home town, but not on the ships. At lunch one day, we said we didn't go to the shows. The astounded couple asked, What do you do? Lots of things. We loved to listen and dance to the great bands in the wheelhouse bar. We went to two different comedy shows in the explorer lounge. The entertainment in the atrium every evening was great. We enjoy walking around the ship. So many things to do, we just don't like the shows. We watched The Kings Speech in the Princess Lounge one day.
Because we carry on, we were off the ship and at the airport at 6:30. We had an 8:50 flight and made it with no problem. Many people ask us how we carry on our luggage? My husband even folds his suit, and it hangs out with no wrinkles. We dress for dinner every night. You will be surprised how much you can get in a carry on if you plan on what you will wear every day. We actually had more clothes than we wore.
In conclusion, it was a fun cruise! Will we do it again? No, because once was enough. Two many more places in the world to see!! Will we cruise Princess again? Yes.